Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves Israeli war cabinet

June 17, 2024
Move is apparent rebuff to far right and attempt to tighten grip on decision-making over Hamas and Hezbollah

Peter Beaumont reports for The Guardian Mon 17 Jun 2024

Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the Israeli war cabinet that had been overseeing the conflict in Gaza, rebuffing his far-right allies who had been seeking seats, and apparently moving to solidify his grasp on decision-making over the fighting with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah across the Lebanese border.

The prime minister announced the move to ministers, saying the war cabinet had been established as part of an agreement in which the moderate politician Benny Gantz and his National Unity party joined an emergency coalition last year.

The disbanding of the war cabinet was confirmed by Israeli officials briefing anonymously, against a backdrop of mounting discontent over the conduct of the war in Gaza and calls from anti-government groups for a week of daily protests.

Netanyahu reportedly told ministers that the war cabinet was no longer needed following Gantz’s resignation a week ago. Gantz, one of the members of the war cabinet, quit the coalition along with Gadi Eisenkot, one of the three observers in the body.

Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, and the strategic affairs minister, Ron Dermer, who had been in the war cabinet.

The dissolution of the war cabinet is unlikely to have any meaningful impact on the conflict – decision-making will move back to the security cabinet – but the political ramifications may be more significant.

The move appears to be a deliberate snub to Netanyahu’s far-right allies in the coalition, including the national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had been angling for a seat in the war cabinet since Gantz’s departure after complaining he had been sidelined for key decisions.

Reports in the Hebrew-language media suggested Netanyahu intends to make key decisions in meetings with his own advisers, excluding Ben-Gvir, before presenting them to the security cabinet.

The move comes amid divisions of opinion between Netanyahu and senior Israel Defense Forces commanders.

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